Which came first happiness or success?

I can remember the first piece of advice I received from my father when I began working at the age of 16.  He would stress to me that working very hard is what leads to success in life.  This is a traditional belief that has been handed down from generation to generation. “If I work harder, I will be more successful.  If I am more successful, then I will be happier.”  However, according to a 2005 study, people who are happier tend to be more successful than people who are not as happy in three areas of their lives: work, health and relationships.  According to Happyify.com, 40% of happiness is within our control. The way we choose to spend our time, and the thoughts that we allow to linger can really impact our mood and long-term happiness. I believe it is time to change the old formula and replace it with a new one: Pursue happiness first, and then watch as the success in life follows.

The Happiness Advantage

Shawn Achor, founder of GoodThink Inc., says, “The single greatest advantage in the modern economy is a happy and engaged workforce. A decade of research proves that happiness raises nearly every business and educational outcome: raising sales by 37%, productivity by 31% and accuracy on tasks by 19%.”  In his acclaimed TED Talk, he explains that according to his research people can choose to create lasting positive change by focusing on several areas of their lives.  One way is to write down three new things that we are grateful for each day.  After just 21 days, the brain is effectively rewired to be more optimistic.  Other ways to train the brain to work more optimistically include, journaling, exercise, meditation and performing random acts of kindness.  If a person practices these proven ways that lead to positivity, they can be a more productive worker for their organization, and they can lead a happier life full of successes.

Be Mindful, Be Happy, Be Successful

When one invites mindfulness to every aspect of their life, they feel a foundational boost to their level of happiness.  So, how does one practice mindfulness?  One of the best working definitions of mindfulness I have ever heard comes from Jon Kabat-Zinn, “paying attention on purpose in the present moment and without judgement.”  Happiness is possible through intentional shifts in habits.  Accepting what is, with curiosity, compassion and focus in the present moment is the core of the practice.  Some examples of welcoming presence are: being awake to the feeling on the bottom of your foot as you take each step, or taking time to be aware of every bite of food at lunch today.  How does it smell? What is the texture like?  What does it taste like? Are you grateful and mindful for all the effort it takes for the food to be on your plate right now?  Even something as simple as taking a break for an hour from looking at your smartphone is a great way to invite awareness and attention into your life.  Cultivating ways to practice mindfulness and happiness is a change in habit that will result in success both at work, and in our lives outside of work.

Written by Kyle Bennett




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